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Twice a year, Salt Lake City becomes ground zero for outdoor gear when Outdoor Retailer descends upon the city for four days of gear junkie heaven. The two annual events, Summer and Winter Outdoor Retailer, are the nation’s largest conventions devoted to outdoor equipment. Every outdoor company you’ve ever heard of (plus many more you…

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Born to Explore: How To Be a Backyard Adventurer, by Richard Wiese, is the newest entrant in what you might call “the literature of childhood adventure” — books that encourage children to get outside and do and build the kinds of things their parents or grandparents used to do and build in the outdoors. The…

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Ursula and Virgil have been asking a lot of weather questions lately. This makes sense: It’s been a particularly “weathersome” summer, and they’ve been outside a lot to notice. One recent wet afternoon, I went through our bookshelves to try to answer one of Virgil’s questions. As is often the case with rainy-day research, I…

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One of my longest serving gear items is a Campingaz Turbo 270 canister stove. I’ve had it for nearly 15 years as my regular go-to camp stove for three-season backpacking trips. It has performed flawlessly, without fail, the entire time. I’ve never had a reason to even consider replacing it. But now its days may…

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“I’m bored.” I think of those two words as summer words. I can hear myself saying them as a child, sunk into a chair at our cottage in northern Wisconsin, too hot to move. I’d already been swimming, I didn’t have a book to read, my brothers were annoying: “I’m bored.” My mother’s response: “Good.”…

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Never go by the forecast. How many times was I reminded of that old woodsman’s adage when I was first learning my way around the outdoors? It was far better to be at the trailhead, prepared and ready for a break in the weather, than to bail out ahead of time and wake up to…

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A good friend of mine has a minor bunion on her left foot, which is often pinched, abraded, compressed, or otherwise painfully affected by her hiking footwear. People with wide feet—especially across the front of their feet—often experience the same problem: blisters, painfully squished toes, and general unhappiness. In my friend’s case, the rest of…

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I ran into a friend (another outdoorsy parent) earlier this week. We exchanged news of our summer so far — trying to catch this year’s rare sunny days, family visits, camps, and on my end, our camping trip, which I wrote about in my July 1 post. I told her about hiking, waterfalls, our encounters…

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While packing up for a dayhike this morning, I casually tossed in my gear repair bag. This small mesh sack contains all my various fix-it supplies but I noticed today that it has become somewhat unwieldy of late. Let’s investigate what I’ve got: A full roll of nylon repair tape This is great stuff for…

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Back from Katmai National Park in southwest Alaska, where I spent four days on a very gritty backpacking adventure in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. It’s quite the desolate lunarscape, site of the largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century. And it’s full of ash. Ash that blows around like a dust storm, or…

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